Chad Fairey had to learn how to embrace the learning curve during his freshman baseball season at Clemson.
Fairey was a standout player at Ninety Six High, earning all-state and all-region honors throughout his prep career.
But Fairey didn’t see immediate success at Clemson, starting the season 0-for-24 at the plate. Fairey wasn’t used to having prolonged struggles.
“It was kind of a learning curve for me, to be able to adjust to the failure,” Fairey said. “In high school, I wasn’t as used to failing, I guess you could say. It’s a whole different ballgame, going from 2A high school to Division I baseball. That’s a tough transition.”
Fairey made an adjustment in his approach and started to see better results. The key moment was when he delivered a pinch-hit, run-scoring single against Gardner-Webb on May 4. It was Fairey’s first career hit.
Fairey said he was so focused on producing at the beginning of the season that he began to press at the plate. A mindset change helped prepare him for a turnaround.
“What really started working for me is I said to myself, ‘I’m going to keep my hands loose and hit every ball right back up the middle,’” Fairey said. ‘If I don’t get a hit, but I hit it back up the middle, I’m going to count that as a win.’ So that’s what I started doing, and it started working for me. I startied hitting towards the end of the year and got hot, so I rolled with that.”
Fairey emerged in the Tigers’ lineup, hitting .282 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in the last 12 games of the season. He started in 11 of those contests.
“I learned a lot about being patient, more so than I did anything else,” Fairey said. “I knew that I was a good ballplayer. I knew that it would come with time. That was the hardest thing at first, just being patient. Once I learned to be patient and just roll with it and trust the process, I knew I’d be fine.”
Growing up, it was always Fairey’s dream to play at Clemson. He’s grateful his late-season production gave him the chance to see more playing time. That included a start in an ACC tournament game against Boston College on May 21, and a start in an NCAA tournament game against Illinois on May 31.
“I’ve got everything in the world to be thankful for,” Fairey said. “Clemson was the school I wanted to go to growing up, and I’m there. Even if I didn’t play a game this season, I’d be thankful just to be there. Just to see everything come to fruition this year has been incredible.”
Fairey will be playing summer ball in the Coastal Plain League with the Wilmington Sharks, and he wants to continue working on consistency in his game.
“Overall, I was proud of the year I put together,” Fairey said. “I started maturing at the plate. I wasn’t always amped up, trying to hit the ball a mile like I was in high school. I started to relax and try to get the job done. I think taking what I learned last year into next year is going to be a huge help for me.”
Learning from last season is an important goal for Fairey, and he’ll have high expectations for himself and the team next season.
“We’ve got some good pitching coming in next year with this recruiting class, so I think we’re going to be a really good team, and we’ll be poised to make a run,” Fairey said. “For me personally, my expectations are always high for myself.
“Just taking what I’ve learned from last year, and I’m also playing summer ball right now. I’m seeing really good pitching, and I’ve been hitting the ball well. Really, I’ve got high expectations for myself going into the season.”